Hot or Cold?
Have you ever noticed that when you hurt yourself everyone around you becomes an instant “expert” about what you should do!?
“Put heat on it!”
“Have you tried a cold pack?!”
So which is the most appropriate advice?
It’s usually after someone has acutely injured themselves that they’re looking to put something on or do something quickly. An acute injury usually involves one of the following factors:
– Sharp pain
– Sudden onset of symptoms
An acute (sudden) injury is essentially different from a chronic (long term) injury which is more likely to build up slowly and be more long-lasting.
Application of ICE is most recommended for ACUTE injuries as it helps calm down a hot, inflamed and potentially swollen region.
An ice pack wrapped with one layer of a thin tea-towel (or paper towel) placed on the injured area for 10-15 minutes every hour is most beneficial. This regime can be continued for 2-3 days. It is important to never place an icepack directly onto skin.
There are some instances when ICE can be of benefit for chronic “overuse injuries”. For example, re-aggravating a Tennis Elbow injury after playing would benefit from application of ice while other more long-term solutions are being explored.
As a general rule, I recommend people not to apply heat to an injury as most injuries have an inflammatory component which heat is likely to exacerbate. So in spite of heat perhaps feeling nice while being applied, the underlying inflammatory process is quite possibly being increased and potentially prolonging the healing process.
So, if you’re in doubt as to which therapy is best for an injury you’re better off using ice or nothing at all, and of course, call us and ask to speak to your Chiropractor!